Namco founder dies

You can thank Japanese game publisher Namco for Pac-Man, Galaga, Pole Position, Splatterhouse, Rolling Thunder, Soul Calibur and Tekken. And you can thank Masaya Nakamura, who died last week, for Namco.

During the decades following World War II, the rooftops of Japanese department stores were home to family friendly rides and carnival-style analogue arcade games. Namco got it start making such amusement machines. In the late 1970s and early 80s, Nakamura’s business took off with arcade hits like Galaxian, Galaga, Pole Position, and Xevious. However, it was Pac-Man that wasn’t only the biggest Namco hit of that era, but also of the most important Japanese video games ever made.

Pac-Man is, according to the Guinness book of World Records, still the most successful coin-op of all time.

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Update: dupe! Read the rest

Cows try to befriend grumpy turtle

Cows investigate a turtle

This turtle has bovinophobia. Read the rest

Astronaut.io: a fun way to watch YouTube videos almost no one has seen

Astronaut.io randomly plays new YouTube video that have close to 0 views. It plays a few seconds of each video before moving on to another random video. If a certain video catches your attention, click the dot below the video to see the whole thing. I could waste a lot of time here.

Today, you are an Astronaut. You are floating in inner space 100 miles above the surface of Earth. You peer through your window and this is what you see. You are people watching. These are fleeting moments.

These videos come from YouTube. They were uploaded in the last week and have titles like DSC 1234 and IMG 4321. They have almost zero previous views. They are unnamed, unedited, and unseen by anyone but YOU.

The Astronaut video stream starts when you press GO. Videos change periodically. If you wish to linger, tap the button.

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Watch this news anchor throw a tantrum about her colleague's outfit

Nine News Australia's anchor Amber Sherlock flipped out just before going on air that her colleague Julie Snook was wearing white, just like her, even though she advised her against it. Sure, they weren't live yet, but the Internet doesn't care. "It is an issue. Go and grab a jacket!"

Sherlock must be well-loved by her colleagues, especially whoever leaked the clip.

(News.com.au)

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Court rules against UK government's surveillance legislation

A European court has ruled that the UK cannot subject its citizens to indiscriminate data collection unless the data retained is being used solely to fight serious crime, reports the BBC.

The verdict concerns an earlier incarnation of Britain's blanket domestic surveillance plans brought to court by opponensts. It does not specifically address the recently-passed "Snooper's Charter," though experts say it will lead directly to a legal challenge against it. The charter, officially known as the Investigatory Powers Act, requires phone companies and internet providers to maintain records of users' online activity for a year.

One irony of it is that an original champion of the challenge, David Davis, is now Britain's Brexit chief: he left the case after a change of personal circumstances led to a sharp change in his principles regarding privacy.

Mr Davis, who had long campaigned on civil liberties issues, left the case after Theresa May appointed him to her cabinet in July.

Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, who is one of those bringing the case, said: "This ruling shows it's counter-productive to rush new laws through Parliament without a proper scrutiny."

The Home Office said it would be putting forward "robust arguments" to the Court of Appeal.

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Bravo Twitter: company promises not to help create Trump's Muslim registry

The Intercept's Sam Biddle asked nine tech companies if they would help authorities create a national registry of known muslims—one of president-elect Donald Trump's campaign suggestions. Only Twitter would go on the record to state that it would not co-operate with such a list.
Twitter: “No,” and a link to this blog post, which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.” which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.”

Bravo. It takes courage and planning for publicly-traded businesses to take a hostile stand on hot potatoes like this, and Twitter bothered. Compare to IBM, whose CEO wrote Trump a slobbering mash note promising the services of her company.

Seven of the other companies didn't respond at all. Microsoft responded with "We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point."

We're asking if tech firms are going to cooperate. But when it comes to inferring affiliations from the mass surveillance of private data, it's just the sort of thing whistleblowers warn us is already going on. Trump's off-the-cuff blather about official registries isn't about what is known, but about making it acceptable.

That said, Biddle's post was met this weekend by dismissive sneering from the Gilfoyles: a good reminder that Silicon Valley is cynical and willing, and that fatalism is the best policy.

Update: Duped Cory. Read the rest

UK Members of Parliament exempt themselves from spying law

The UK lumpenproletariat will surely accept, nay, cheer, the fact that their betters are too well-bred to be expected to follow the same rules as the rabble.

From The Independent

Politicians have exempted themselves from Britain's new wide-ranging spying laws.

The Investigatory Powers Act, which has just passed into law, brings some of the most extreme and invasive surveillance powers ever given to spies in a democratic state. But protections against those spying powers have been given to MPs.

Most of the strongest powers in the new law require that those using them must be given a warrant. That applies to people wanting to see someone's full internet browsing history, for instance, which is one of the things that will be collected under the new law.

As J.R. "Bob" Dobbs said, "I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to." Read the rest

Donald Duck is a quite effective and surreal math teacher

"Donald in Mathmagic Land" was released in 1959. As Walt Disney said, "The cartoon is a good medium to stimulate interest."

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Make America Grit Again: poor towns tearing up roads they can't afford to maintain

Aarian Marshall reports that poor towns are ripping up pothole-ridden roads rather than pay to maintain them.

Repaving roads is expensive, so Montpelier instead used its diminishing public works budget to take a step back in time and un-pave the road. Workers hauled out a machine called a “reclaimer” and pulverized the damaged asphalt and smoothed out the road’s exterior. They filled the space between Vermont’s cruddy soil and hardier dirt and gravel up top with a “geotextile”, a hardy fabric that helps with erosion, stability and drainage.

In an era of dismal infrastructure spending, where the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the country’s roads a D grade, rural areas all over the country are embracing this kind of strategic retreat.

It's also true that some rural towns paved unnecessarily and bizarrely. When I lived in the southwest, I'd sometimes run into grids of perfectly black country roads gridding through the empty flat llano, like something put into Sim City before you even get started on what buildings you zone for. Oil money.

Which is to say this sounds like an infrastructure problem, but in many cases it's just coming to terms with the reality of life in the country: "most of the community leaders interviewed by the report’s authors said their residents approved of de-paving, especially if agencies kept them informed about the process."

Photo: Deborah Fitchett (CC-BY-2.0) Read the rest

Trump fans melting down online for some reason

Trump's fans are having a tough time so far today. First, the realization struck many that one must be registered before election day to vote in all but 14 states. Second, the Trumpernet seems to be context-collapsing: they might yet win the night, but backstabbing and chaos is already upon it. A subreddit, r/the_meltdown, is collecting the most spectacular ragequits. Most are from /pol/, though, which is as much a performance venue as anything else. Read the rest

Interactive clothing via dynamic projection mapping

Technically, cloth is a "deforming non-rigid surface," so projecting a stable image onto clothes is a big technological challenge. To solve it, Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory combined two new techniques that allow stable projection of an image onto clothes even as they move. Read the rest

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 went to Bob Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". From the New York Times:

Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, called Mr. Dylan “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition” and compared him to Homer and Sappho, whose work was delivered orally. Asked if the decision to award the prize to a musician signaled a broadening in the definition of literature, Ms. Danius jokingly responded, “The times they are a changing, perhaps,” referencing one of Mr. Dylan’s songs.

"Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature" (NYT)

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English man spends 11 hours trying to make cup of tea with Wi-Fi kettle

The iKettle is advertised as “the world’s first Wi-Fi kettle.” Mark Rittman got one and said it took 11-hours to make a cup of tea.

From The Guardian:

A key problem seemed to be that Rittman’s kettle didn’t come with software that would easily allow integration with other devices in his home, including Amazon Echo, which, like Apple’s Siri, allows users to tell connected smart devices what to do. So Rittman was trying to build the integration functionality himself.

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Yahoo secretly scanned its users' email for U.S. intelligence services

Yahoo email accounts were scanned by the company on behalf of U.S. intelligence services from last year. This represents the first example of a U.S. service provider providing complete access to "all arriving messages," reports Reuters.

It is not known what information intelligence officials were looking for, only that they wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters. That could mean a phrase in an email or an attachment, said the sources, who did not want to be identified.

Reuters was unable to determine what data Yahoo may have handed over, if any, and if intelligence officials had approached other email providers besides Yahoo with this kind of request.

According to the two former employees, Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer's decision to obey the directive roiled some senior executives and led to the June 2015 departure of Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, who now holds the top security job at Facebook Inc.

It might not seem terribly meaningful to users, given the revelation that 500m Yahoo accounts (surely all of its users, or close to it) were hacked anyway, but there's a difference between a one-off break-in and a standing invitation. Over four years of Mayer's leadership, Yahoo suffered a "stunning collapse in valuation" and was sold to Verizon for $4.83bn. Completion of the deal is reportedly threatened by the recent stories about Yahoo's security failings. Read the rest

This sexist music video gets real meta real fast

Prepare to go down a rabbit hole of modern life in this incredible video for "Bike Engine" by Stylo G x Jacob Plant. Read the rest

Canadian man accused of smuggling $180k in gold in own arse

An employee of the Royal Canadian Mint stands accused of smuggling $180,000-worth of gold out of the institution in his rectum, reports Kelley Egan of the Ottawa Citizen, "evading multiple levels of detection with a time-honoured prison trick."

“Appalling,” was the conclusion of defence lawyer Gary Barnes, who described the Crown’s case as an underwhelming collection of circumstantial evidence.

“This is the Royal Canadian Mint, your Honour, and one would think they should have the highest security measures imaginable,” Barnes said in his closing submission.

“And here the gold is left sitting around in open buckets.”

Some crimes have a smoking gun. But this one had a coating gunge.

Investigators also found a container of vaseline in his locker and the trial was presented with the prospect that a puck could be concealed in an anal cavity and not be detected by the wand. In preparation for these proceedings, in fact, a security employee actually tested the idea, Barnes said. Lawrence did not take the stand — as is his legal right — and the Crown was not able to definitively establish how the gold pucks made their way out of the facility.
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Short history of comic book lettering

There was no one like Artie Simek (1916-1975), who lettered most of Marvel's Silver Age titles. This terrific short documentary about comic book lettering makes me want to pull out my Ames Lettering Guide and nib pen. Read the rest

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